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Aspen High School firms up graduation plans, including May 29 parade through town

The Aspen School District turf field.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

NOTABLE AHS GRADUATION EVENTS

May 19: Virtual International Baccalaureate diploma reception

May 22: Seniors’ last day — senior check-out, distribution of caps and gowns, and yearbooks

May 28: Scholarship drive-thru ceremony

May 29: March/Parade of the Graduates

May 30: Graduation at Buttermilk

*times and exact locations are to be determined in most cases

More details were finalized for Aspen High School’s upcoming graduation events, which conclude with a May 30 drive-in ceremony at Buttermilk Ski Area. AHS principal Tharyn Mulberry confirmed Thursday a series of events over the next two-plus weeks that will help celebrate the class of 2020.

The main festivities are set to begin Tuesday with a virtual International Baccalaureate diploma reception that will honor the school’s IB students.

“Each staff member takes one of the IB diploma candidates and does a personal narrative about them in the IB program, so it’s a really beautiful ceremony in person,” Mulberry said. “They are going to do this virtually and honor all the students that were part of the IB program.”

The excitement really picks up May 22, the last day of school for the seniors. That Friday will include the distribution of caps and gowns to the students, as well as the handing out of yearbooks.

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The main events will take place over three consecutive days, beginning May 28 with a drive-thru scholarship ceremony on the Aspen School District campus. The by-invitation event takes place of the school’s annual awards ceremony, which usually includes many of the scholarship donors in attendance.

“This is such a great time of year to have them come in and get to see how it affects kids,” Mulberry said. “Unfortunately, it’s been taken away by COVID. We’re still going to do that; we are going to video it and make sure it gets to them so they have a chance to see what is going on.”

Mulberry said 70 students have been invited to take part in the scholarship ceremony and they are being asked to dress up as they’ll have their pictures taken as they take turns driving through.

The annual March of the Graduates will take place in form of a parade through Aspen on Friday, May 29. This event is usually held on the seniors’ last day as a walk through the ASD schools, but it has been pushed back a week to also serve as a dress rehearsal of sorts for graduation the following day.

A time was still being determined for the May 29 parade, but Mulberry did say the route would be the same as used during the city’s annual Fourth of July parade, only beginning in the Aspen Middle School parking lot and ending at Buttermilk.

“There will be signs on Main Street,” Mulberry said. “When people have a chance, they can come out and be along the parade route. They have to stay in their cars and follow all the COVID regulations, but they can certainly cheer our graduates on.”

The concluding event will be the May 30 graduation in the Buttermilk parking lots. Scheduled for noon, the ceremony will function much like a drive-in movie, with the students and audience sitting in their vehicles to adhere to safety guidelines related to the pandemic. A stage will be set up and the audio will be broadcast over the radio.

Mulberry said more details should be finalized Friday after administration meets with Aspen Skiing Co. and Pitkin County officials. Otherwise, the main pieces of the graduation events are in place.

Also a mainstay each graduation season is the AHS senior sports banquet, which includes the handing out of the senior male and female athlete of the year awards. AHS athletic director Martha Richards said most of those awards would be rolled into the May 28 drive-thru scholarship ceremony.

The spring sports season was canceled by the Colorado High School Activities Association and coach-athlete contact, including practices, remains off limits outside of coaches giving out voluntary workouts for athletes to do from home. Richards said CHSAA has recently put together a task force to begin to think about summer training and fall sports, should either be allowed to happen.

“CHSAA is really telling all of us it’s kind of guided by your local health committees and your school administrations,” Richards said. “We have coaches brainstorming on different things we can do if groups are allowed to get together. There are just so many question marks.”

acolbert@aspentimes.com


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